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Fetish - Fashion, Sex & Power

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Kinky boots, corsets, underwear as outerwear, second-skin garments of rubber and leather, uniforms, body piercing… Today everything from a fetishist's dream appears on the fashion runways.

Although some people regard fetish fashion as exploitative and misogynistic, others interpret it as a positive Amazonian statement--couture Catwoman. But the connection between fashion a
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published January 4th 1996 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 2nd 1995)
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Ava LaBeija
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Initially, I was pleasantly surprised. The book goes beyond the standard source material of Bettie Page stock photos, the Bizarre back catalogue and wasp waist horror stories and into the world of Polaire, DSC and Rops. Steele's references are extensive, ranging from Mr. Pearl and Fakir Musafar to Marx and Engels. In terms of research, this is a solid work.

There is no denying that this woman is archetypically cishet, and uses inconsiderate terms such as "transvestite" (and, rather condescendingl
David Veith
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall an ok read. Was written in the 90s and you can tell as the world has evolved since then. At time almost comes across as a bit pretentious, but that is probably more on me ha. Very interesting things though that I never new about fashion and fetishes.
The Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health
Fetish: Fashion, Sex & Power explores the link between fashion and the expression of sexuality—not only sexual behavior, but also gender identity.

The 19th century sexologist Richard Von Krafft-Ebing defined fetishism as “the association of lust with the idea of certain portions of female person, or with certain articles of female attire.” Rejecting the idea that only men can have fetishes, Steele believes that fetishism is best understood on a continuum: from a slight preference for certain kinds
Robert Hudder
This came out in 1996 and has stayed on my shelf. I have picked it up a few times and always stopped somewhere in the first chapter. There was something quite old fashioned about the definition of fetish. I kept expecting more to hang a hat on other than a simple description and some talk on what this means.

Maybe part of the old fashioned is even the referents. This all occurred before Pat Califa became Patrick Califa; the Matrix Trilogy; or the last days of industrial and gothic culture. In so
₵oincidental   Ðandy
A fascinating look at the intersection of popular fashion & fetishism; some very interesting theories & points of view are proposed. Good read.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
A lot of good info/history and pics, but this author is the worst cishet norm other-ing pathologizing onlooker
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
In Fetish - Fashion, Sex & Power, Steele deftly traces fetish fashion from its earliest appearances in niche markets to its counterculture appeal to its embrace in the mainstream. As fashion history's preeminent scholar, Steele navigates this history effortlessly and makes an incredibly complex topic accessible. She concisely weaves together political, social, and cultural influences in an attempt to make the abstract more tangible. While she does not shy away from the psychology or sexuality of ...more
Aug 12, 2014 rated it liked it
As an academic Ms. Steele could have produced a dry tome about the complex and sometimes fraught relationship between fetishism and fashion and waxed on about the fact that each consumes the other to create something new and complex. Instead she explores the intersectionality of fashion, fetishism, sex, gender, power and the body in a care, but very surface level way. What she is careful and thoughtful about doing is presenting the fetishists she interacts with (or the case studies she quotes) i ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is a nice introduction to a thick topic. With supplemental readings this book is a nice companion to a broader understanding of fetishism through out the ages. It briefly covers many different perspectives on digesting core theory, while the author retains a hint at their own opinion. She completely lets loose in the final chapter, only to leave the reader with information to formulate their own opinion. This is not a one stop shop. I would advise reading Tiger Sprung along with other ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it
There is certainly a lot of good stuff in this book - clearly Steele, who writes clearly and engagingly, has done a great deal of research. And yet, there's something ultimately frustrating about it - although she has done a lot of research on various fetish outfits, you don't feel like you've come any closer to understanding why people would have these fetishes - you just get a sense that many people do. Perhaps that's too much to ask - after all, it seems that nobody really knows why people de ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Though this was a wonderful examination of fetish in fashion through the years and how it became a part of common society, it did not explain as much as I was looking for in how fetish "is". Much more focused on patterns in history, i suppose an anthropological view, but not one that included more of the psychology as I was looking for. Still a great place to start research in the culture of fetishism. ...more
Adrien Green
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've been working on this book for some time, but it's none-the-less a fascinating read. Fetish is an informed cultural examination of the evolution of sexual attitudes/values and their manifestation in the fashion of the times. The book further explores the commoditization of BDSM subculture in contemporary life. ...more
Lui Ramirez
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Loved how it considers several perspective on fetishism and fashion alike.
A little too much Freud thrown in there for my taste and my ideological inclinations.
Super interesting account of the intersections of fashion and fetish, and an excellent, accessible book for those of us who are nowhere near experts at neither.
Nov 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone into fashion or sex or both
i got this book as a gift and loved the cover...but the book is not really about sex, but more about the history of clothing as a means to send sexual signals. it's the idea behind stiletto heels expanded to a wide variety of clothing. some of it's weird but i really enjoyed the psychology behind fetish fashion. lots of photos. not vulgar. ...more
Tofu Fairy
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
this was an interesting book but out of date in a lot of ways. written in 1996, a lot of the "fashion" and "style" tidbits are old. The psychology behind the fetish fashion is still relevant though. its a good read. reads a bit like a textbook for my taste but I did enjoy it. ...more
Alisa Cupcakeland
AMADO. Igual soy consciente de que la autora confunde un libro de Jeanne Rejaunier con uno de Naomi Wolf pero se lo perdono.

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Valerie Steele is director and chief curator and Melissa Marra is associate curator of education and public programs, both at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.

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These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
107 likes · 42 comments
“In answer to the dominatrix at the Torture Garden, I would say that anyone who wears clothes, listens to music, goes to the movies, or is on the Internet might want to know more about fetishism. Certainly, anyone who is “into” fashion has to address the issue.” 2 likes
“I am a cultural historian specializing in fashion, and the book you are now reading as part of an ongoing project on the relationship between clothing and sexuality. I am interested in exploring fashion as a symbolic system linked to expression of sexuality – both sexual behaviour (including erotic attraction) and gender identity.” 0 likes
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